A new NBC New poll found 50 percent of Americans would support “U.S. military action in Syria” if it was “limited to air strikes using cruise missiles launched from U.S. naval ships that were meant to destroy military units and infrastructure that have been used to carry out chemical attacks.”
But the poll also found that half of respondents said the U.S. should not take military action in response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons, a finding that matches results from other recent polls.
At the same time, the same poll found that a majority of Americans agreed that the use of chemical weapons by any country should trigger an American response, including the possibility of taking military action.
The poll asked respondents if they agreed with this statement: “The use of chemical weapons by any country is a ‘red line,’ that is an action that would require a significant U.S. response, including the possibility of military action.” Fifty-eight percent agreed, while 35 percent disagreed.
The British Parliament’s vote on Thursday against the U.K.’s involvement in any military response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons marked a set back for the Obama administration’s push for a broad coalition for action. However, the White House said President Obama would not be deterred.
“As we’ve said, President Obama’s decision-making will be guided by what is in the best interests of the United States. He believes that there are core interests at stake for the United States and that countries who violate international norms regarding chemical weapons need to be held accountable,” a White House statement said after the parliament vote.
French president François Holland reiterated his support for a military strike after the U.K. vote, saying military action would provide a “dissuasion value” for a negotiated “political solution.”
The NBC poll also found that 79 percent said Obama should receive congressional approval for military action in Syria. On that front, the White House has reportedly been consulting with key Members of Congress on the issue. But there is mixed reaction on Capitol Hill about military action and whether Obama should get prior authorization (under a broad interpretation of the president’s power under the War Powers Resolution, Obama has a 60-90 day window to act without Congressional approval).
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) urged Obama to punish Assad. “It is clear that the American people are weary of war. However, Assad gassing his own people is an issue of our national security, regional stability and global security,” she said.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has asked Obama for restraint to allow time for U.N. experts in Syria investigating the alleged attack site to report on their findings. “We’re certainly aware of all the media reports,” a spokesperson for Ban said. “At the same time, it’s imperative that the work the investigation team does is seen by all as fair, impartial and accurate.”